UK politician says Bahrain F1 must be called off

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper says British drivers should pull out of event
UK politician says Bahrain F1 must be called off
Labours Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 20 Apr 2012 10:14 AM

The UK's shadow home secretary has called for the Bahrain Grand Prix to be cancelled amid continuing violent protests in the Gulf kingdom.

Yvette Cooper said British Formula One stars Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton should not take part in the controversial three-day event.

Speaking on BBC's Question Time TV programme on Thursday night, she said: "It shouldn't go ahead, I don't think British drivers should go, I think the Formula One should not go ahead in Bahrain.

"You have got demonstrations by democratic protesters who have been violently suppressed and although it should be a matter for the sport to decide rather than for the Government, I do think government ministers can express an opinion. That opinion should be it should not go ahead, it would send the wrong signal, it should not happen."

Cooper joins a growing number of politicians and human rights campaigners who have called on organisers to pull the plug on the event.

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch criticised the decision to go ahead with the Bahrain Grand Prix, claiming it gives Bahrain’s rulers the opportunity "to obscure the seriousness of the country’s human rights situation".

The event was cancelled in 2011 because of political unrest.

“Formula One promoters say their decision to race in Bahrain should not be derailed by political considerations, but the ruling family will attempt to portray the decision as a political statement of support for its repressive policies,” said Tom Porteous, deputy programme director at US-based Human Rights Watch.

Respect MP George Galloway has also said the tracks of the Middle Eastern race circuit were "stained by the blood of the people who are asking for a vote".

On Thursday, Force India tightened up their security procedures after petrol bombs were thrown near a car taking staff back to their hotel from the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit.

The team said two staff, one a data engineer and the other a radio contractor, had decided to return home to Britain after the incident but there was no question of pulling out of a race.

Although only one petrol bomb was mentioned by a team spokesman, sources indicated there may have been several more that landed on the highway to Manama on Wednesday evening during clashes in a nearby village between anti-government protestors and police.

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